Internet insanity

The new challenge that is encouraging people to go missing

By on February 26, 2019

Eating Tide Pods or a spoonful of cinnamon, burning yourself with salt and ice, driving while blindfolded — these are all internet challenges of the past that quickly became well-known and put people in serious danger. Now, there’s a new challenge: the 48-Hour Challenge.

This challenge encourages kids to go missing for two days without telling anyone. They get points whenever someone mentions them on social media while they’re missing.

Police all over the country are warning parents about the phenomenon to help prevent children from participating in the stunt.

“We are not trying to cause a panic among our community,” the Tippecanoe County Sheriff’s Office in Indiana wrote on its Facebook page. “But we would not be doing our job if we didn’t make you aware of a new ‘challenge’ that could become an issue.”

Not only would participating in the challenge be dangerous, but it would also prevent police from dealing with real emergencies. Though police haven’t seen widespread cases of people participating in this challenge, they are preemptively warning their communities.

“We hope that by putting this message out, it will deter anybody who’s actually thinking about it from going through with it,” said Elise Schaffer, public information and education officer from the Sheriff’s Department in Dane County, Wisconsin.

Police have warned that anyone caught participating in the challenge could face charges.

At Quinnipiac, some students are skeptical as to whether or not this challenge is actually just a hoax.

“It’s not a thing,” junior journalism major Garrett Amill said. “It’s similar to the 72-hour challenge that was published by the Daily Mail. News sources are just writing about things to scare parents. The only reason someone would do it is to ride the wave of popularity of people talking about it. It’s possible that someone actually did something like this and then it got spun into a challenge.”

The 72-hour challenge, which originated in Europe and became well-known in the U.S., has been called a hoax by Snopes.com’s fact-checking section. They say there are not many accounts of people participating in the 72-hour challenge, which is the 48-hour-challenge but done over a longer period of time, yet it has become popular due to people sharing it online.

“As with other panics of similar nature,” Snopes.com wrote, “the Daily Mail article breathlessly described as a ‘game’ that sounded of no real interest to teens whatsoever and included scant evidence that participants were actually undertaking the purported challenge.”

The 48-hour challenge may also be blown out of proportion, as only a few missing-people incidents have been connected to the challenge. There have not been widespread reports of kids going missing, according to police in Wisconsin. Many people haven’t even heard about the challenge.

“I hadn’t heard about it,” junior english major Gabriella D’Annunzio said. “I doubt people would do it cause no one else has heard about it either.”

But, that doesn’t stop the worry of some that people they know would take part in a challenge like this.

“I know a lot of stupid people,” junior political science major Austin Calvo said. “So yeah, I definitely know people who would do it just to prove that they could do it. Hopefully not many people have done it and if parents and kids have a good relationship they won’t do that but I mean, kids have done more stupid things.”

Another recent internet challenge was the “Bird Box” challenge. The challenge was inspired by the Netflix horror movie of the same name. In this challenge, participants film themselves walking around and doing regular household activities with blindfolds on. Some people merely walk into walls during the challenge, but others have put themselves in greater danger by getting in their cars and driving. Because of this, Netflix issued a warning to people on Twitter:

“Can’t believe I have to say this, but: PLEASE DO NOT HURT YOURSELVES WITH THIS BIRD BOX CHALLENGE. We don’t know how this started, and we appreciate the love, but Boy and Girl have just one wish for 2019 and it is that you not end up in the hospital due to memes,” Netflix wrote on Twitter.

Though missing-persons reports due to the 48-hour challenge are not widespread, police are still taking the claims seriously because of the popularity of past internet challenges.

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